Neurovascular coupling is the process by which neurons anticipate metabolic demand and communicate to blood vessels to alter blood flow. In the trilaminar capillary network of the retina (illustrated in the image on the right), light signals can alter patterns of blood flow within seconds. My lab is imaging these dynamic changes in retinal vasculature and testing the hypothesis that the abnormal blood glucose levels in diabetes interfere with neurovascular coupling, leading to diabetic retinopathy.
We have been able to see dynamic changes in calcium levels in pericytes (green) and corresponding changes in capillary diameter (red) triggered by light. This recording was taken from the middle capillary plexus.